Grammar: Postmodification

Grammar in EAP

Structure of nominal groups


A typical nominal group is structured in the following way:

determiner premodifier head postmodifier
a complicated solution to the problem

Nouns (which themselves can be nominalisations) can be premodified or postmodified (qualified):

noun + postmodifier

relative clause – students who have no previous experience

to-clauses – the solution to the problem of inflation, the question to be debated

ing-clauses – a brake consisting of a drum divided into twelve compartments

ed-clauses – canoes preserved by a hard plaster, a brake consisting of a drum divided into twelve compartments, the curve shown

prepositional phrase (preposition + nominal group)- we need to bring to the box a special tool with a ready-compressed spring

adverb (or adverbial group) – the road back, the people outside the station

adjective (or adjectival group) – varieties common in India, the festival proper, something different


Exercise: Identifying Postmodifiers

that complement clause – the news that the research had succeeded was unexpected

to-infinitive complement clause –  the failure to provide him with adequate research facilities

of + ing complement clause – the possibility of increasing dollar receipts

wh- complement clauses – the question (of) whether there remained a distinctive philosophy of liberalism

see: Grammar: Complement Postmodification

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